Friday, November 25, 2011

America's Cup San Diego

Last weekend, we took some pictures of the America's Cup Race boats in San Diego Bay. Apparently, I forgot to publish them 'til now. The US boat(s) is the Oracle, which can be seen in the first two photos.

Liveaboard News

One of Laurel Street Mooring's own residents was interviewed by our local Fox news station the other day. For the number of times the news anchors have used our neighborhood as their backdrop, it's nice to see that one of them finally realized there were real, live human beings living within that backdrop. I kind of resent being categorized as "low income" by the anchorman. To me, that is relative. Our monthly expenses are around $150 a piece, so while we don't need much income to live, we also don't have the debt that homeowners have and this, in my opinion, makes us rich. I'll accept the "unemployed" label, although I think quite a few of the people out here are retired. Soon, I'm happy to report, I'll be among the unemployed on the mooring field. Hopefully I can make it last for a while! Anyway, click the link to see the video.

Liveaboard News

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pictures of Catalina

Only about 4 months late, I finally uploaded pictures of our Catalina trip to Picasa. (For those of you who use Facebook, they are essentially the same as the ones I uploaded there in August.)
Cruising to Catalina Island

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Holy Sheet

A window treatment overhaul has been on my list of things to do for quite some time. A few months ago, we tore a hole in one of the makeshift curtains when we tried to slide it open. That hole was incentive enough to finally cross one more item off my "To Do" list. :)



Friday, October 28, 2011

Introducing Betty...

It's been a couple months since I last blogged. I was kind of enjoying the silence. A new girl entered our lives so I figured she was the perfect reason to get back on the blog bandwagon. You know how Ben and I love our rides. I've been putting the pedal to the... well, to the pavement... bicycle-style... for over a year now and dreaming of finding a sweet little Honda CRX in good condition. Frankly, that is next to impossible these days, but as sailing has taught me, patience is a virtue and my dream finally came true on Wednesday. Thanks to Rene and Kathy of Encinitas, I adopted this hot little number named Betty into our little family. At 27 years old, she's been around the block a time or two... but she's led a charmed life here in Southern California so she's got plenty of spunk left in her. We're looking forward to all our new adventures together in the days and weeks to come. Thank you, Rene and Kathy!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Boom-Boom Room

For the past three years, the V-berth has been a thorn in our sides. When we moved into Mo-C in 2008, we knew that our bed was shaped like a V. We were willing to deal with it and we were under the impression that the previous owners had the board and cushion that would fill in the void and make our bed complete.

Apparently, there was no board or cushion so almost a year after we moved into Mo-C, Ben filled in the void himself.

Only problem: we didn't have a cushion for it. From time to time, I'd hitch a ride to the fabric store and price foam, but with our 4-inch tattered foam cushions and another 4-inches of terribly worn foam over top, it felt like one piece of new foam in the void would lay there mocking us daily (and it was really expensive). I'd had all the best intentions of gutting the whole V-berth and buying a completely new bed but without a car, it had always seemed a daunting task. And truth be told, I wasn't ready to commit to the sailing life and spend a good amount of money on a bed I might abandon sooner than later. 

Maybe like A.D. and B.C.E., everything in our lives will forever be designated B.C. (Before Catalina) and A.C. (After Catalina). Maybe it was the faith we grew in the boat or in ourselves or in our relationship during our trip to Catalina. Maybe since Mo-C proved to us she was in it for the long haul, we owed her (and ourselves) a little respect. Whatever it was, I decided we weren't going to spend another solitary night in those creepy little V-shaped less-than-twin beds, reaching out for each other but instead finding a cold, wooden void in the place of a warm body. So I bought two 8-inch (with memory foam) twin mattresses and an electric carving knife and we spent most of Saturday fashioning the first one to fit inside the berth. Once we figured out all the angles, we had the second piece cut in one slice to form our new, giant V-King Bed.

Earlier in the day, Ben had sterilized the entire V-Berth with bleach and water to remove any mold or dust mites and the previous day, I had purchased all new bedding to create our shiny new Boom-Boom Room (as it's become known on the mooring field). Now, our most perplexing thought is how we managed to tolerate those old, dilapidated cushions for the past three years. And Lola seems ultra-pleased that she no longer has to worry about falling into the great abyss.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Anchorage: Glorietta Bay

Mo-C with Hotel Del in the background
 Last Tuesday, we set sail for Glorietta Bay with our friend Andrea. We anchored for two nights and Adam and Jasmine met up with us and anchored on the second day. We had some good times with good friends. It used to feel like bay sails to La Playa and Glorietta were so much work that sometimes we opted to stay put on the mooring ball. Ever since our Catalina trip, however, our perspective has changed. Looks like this anchorage was number 4 for the year, not counting the Mission Bay/Dana Point/Catalina trip. Not bad for a couple of newbies! 
Rita and Mo-C anchored in Glorietta Bay

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Catalina Island Videos

The internet gods have not been smiling on me lately. I went to the Cafe yesterday to upload pics and videos but I wasn't able to get online there because they were having issues with their router. Ben was able to upload some Catalina videos from his computer, so I figured I'd start with those for now. We left Dana Point around 4:15 AM on July 25th and pretty much motored the whole way to Catalina... around 10 hours. We threw up the sails for about the last hour of the trip, when the wind finally greeted us. We were anchored in Hamilton Beach by 1:45 PM. As we arrived at Hamilton Beach, we were greeted by a playful pod of dolphins:

We spent one night in the rollers at Hamilton Beach and by morning I insisted we grab a mooring at Avalon. (This was my first experience cruising and I wanted to go home with happy thoughts about sailing and anchoring.) Perhaps the Harbor Master felt sorry for the only girl on board (Adam left his boat anchored @ Hamilton Beach and came along for the ride to Avalon) because he gave us a pretty sweet mooring, right next to the dinghy dock and close to all the action. Ben went for a quick swim under and around Mo-C and took the camera with him:

We headed back to San Diego on Thursday morning, July 28th around 8:30 AM. The usual northwest wind had switched to a southeast wind so it was a bit of a hindrance to us. The forecast predicted it would switch back to the northwest around noon but it never did. After about 20 hours of motorsailing, we arrived back on the ball at 4:20 AM on Friday the 29th. We traveled a total of 168 nautical miles in 44 hours and 26 minutes over a 10 day period. We learned a lot along the way, much of which I'll share in future posts. We also took lots of photos and as soon as I'm able to upload them, I'll post them here.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Coming Up...

I have a lot to post about. I still want to write about our trip to Catalina Island. Plus we anchored in Glorietta Bay last week. And this past weekend was a very productive one around the boat. But we're near the limit on our 5GB data plan so I can't upload any pics until tomorrow or the next day. I'll write more in the coming days.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

To Do

I still have a lot to blog about but I'm simmering with my thoughts about the whole trip and I'm not prepared today to write about Catalina and the ride home. We learned so much along the way and for me, personally, I feel like I've somehow conquered, or at least begun to conquer, my biggest fear... the Ocean. For now, I thought I'd share a new "To Do" list. These are things we realized would make cruising easier. So here goes:

1. Line for our sea anchor
2. New line for our traveler
3. New blocks for our traveler
4. Autopilot (we purchased one before our trip to Dana Point but Ben wasn't able to customize it to our boat so we're back to square one on this. We have an old autopilot that we may be able to repair but either way, we need a working autopilot that fits our boat).
5. Windlass (for you non-boaties, this pulls up the anchor with little to no manpower)
6. A little coffee carafe. We can make coffee while underway but I came to realize it's not very safe to be handling boiling water while moving, so I'd prefer to have some already made that we can just warm up while underway. Simple things, ya know?
7. Wire the compass so it lights up at night.
8. A shock-absorbing mat to stand on or one of those golf-club-handle-looking things that people attach to their tiller in order to steer from a seated position. I learned that I need one or the other in order to be able to fulfill my duties on watch.
9. A chip for our GPS so we can see exactly where the buoys and other important things are while sailing.
10. A working jib

I think that's about it for now. But it goes to show, it is possible to sail or cruise without all the luxuries. However, it would be nice to have some things to make life a little simpler!


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dana Point

Mo-C on the hook in Dana Point
 When we arrived in Dana Point yesterday, Adam had used up his 5 days for this month in the protected anchorage so he had to anchor outside the breakwater. We anchored out there with him and tried to catch some Zzzz's. I got up pretty early (I was feeling refreshed from the 4 hours of carbon monoxide-induced sleep I'd gotten while underway the night before) and got caught up on some work. When Ben got up, we dinghied to land and ate some giant hamburgers (sailing does funny things to you) and then returned to the boat. The ocean anchorage is like, well, let's just say it is kind of difficult to work from a laptop and a monitor while having to hold on to your seat. It's like working on a rollercoaster, I guess you could say. Since Ben and I have never been to the protected anchorage, we decided to pick up and move inside the breakwater where I could work in peace. It's amazing what a difference a breakwater makes!
Rita on the hook at Dana Point

We learned a few things along the way from Mission Bay to Dana Point. Ben found out the engine wasn't charging the batteries as it should have been, so he adjusted that today. There was absolutely no sun when we came up here, so our batteries really needed that extra boost from the engine while we were underway. Before we left, we got a Simrad TP22 Tiller Pilot to make the trip a little easier, but naturally, it needed some adjusting so we (okay, Ben) had to hand-steer the entire way. I helped out whenever he needed but I was mostly fixated on not getting ill or losing my mind, as I said before. He's currently working on adjusting the tiller pilot to fit the boat, but none of the trips we'll be making now will be as long as the one from Mission Bay to Dana Point, so if it's not working, we can suck it up and steer. There's a big learning curve out here. Not just from the ocean and the wind, but just understanding the ins and outs of being underway. Luckily we have Adam to give us tips, not only on navigating but also simpler things like what to keep in our ditch bag. It really helps to have a an experienced cruiser guiding us along the way!

We are leaving for Newport tonight or tomorrow morning. I'll post again when we arrive.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Buddy Boating

Adam's boat Rita off our starboard bow
 Yesterday afternoon, we left Mission Bay and headed north to Dana Point. Our first big trip in Mother Culture. We buddy-boated with our friend Adam and made it to Dana Point early this morning, around 6:00am. Overall, we went 59.6 nautical miles in 17 hours and 22 minutes, at an average of 3.4 knots. We sailed about 6 or 7 hours and motored the rest of the way. When we first started sailing three years ago, we always swore we'd never use the motor. That's what sailing is all about, right? But when you're out there moving 0.0 knots, it can be treacherous, so we motored. For me, the trip was an exercise in mind over matter. This was my first long-distance trip so I was mainly focused on not going insane. Luckily, Ben and the voices in my head kept me company along the way. ;) We're not much for planning so we'll be here in Dana for a day or two so I can catch up on some work and then we'll see where the wind takes us.
Rita under Sail

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Sound of Music

While at anchor in Mission Bay, Ben installed two new waterproof speakers on the stern of the boat. Now we can listen to tunes while we sail, or while we're just hanging out in the cockpit. Everything seems to be coming together nicely of late.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

On The Up and Up

Before we left for Mission Bay yesterday, Ben did some quick upgrades and repairs. Here are some pics: 

The inside of our grill was disintegrating...

So he replaced the innards with new shiny parts.

A few days ago, we took down the old, rusty light fixtures in the salon and over the navigation station.
Ben replaced them with these full moon-looking fixtures.

They light up white...

And red... 
The red is helpful for maintaining night vision while on night watch.

The base of our tiller cracked the last time we sailed over to La Playa. Luckily, we have a backup tiller on board. Rather than spending the money on a brand-new tiller to replace the main tiller, Ben decided to dry out and epoxy the cracked tiller. It is now as strong as ever and served us perfectly on our trip to Mission Bay.

Ben also installed an outboard engine mount to the railing on the stern of the boat. Now we can bring his outboard with us when we anchor out so we don't have to row to land. This isn't necessary in San Diego, but it will be when we're ready to travel to places more obscure.

Anchorage: Mission Bay

 We sailed over to Mission Bay yesterday. We left around 1:45pm and arrived around 7:00pm. It was a beautiful day but the wind died about halfway there so we ended up motoring for the last leg of the trip. Adam should be sailing over today to anchor with us. At some point, we plan to dinghy across the channel to check out Markitos's new (used) boat, a Calkins 50'. It's always exciting to see friends fulfill their dreams. :)

In this picture of Mo-C at anchor, you might notice the big blue rectangle suspended from a halyard over the cockpit. Ben dug this sun shade out of our lazarette a few weeks ago and it's been getting good use ever since. To think, it's been stowed for at least two years and we never even realized we owned it 'til this summer. Better late than never!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Training Wheels

We spent almost four years living in a box, eight months living in a rolling box and three years living in a floating box. Believe it or not, there is a method to our madness. Some people tell us we need to be sailing. We need to just get out there and "do it." And we intend to. When we're ready.

As far as sailing goes, Ben and I are both humble. Neither of us would call ourselves sailors. We understand that we have a lot to learn. And on the ever-changing blue highway, there are many things we will have to learn as things happen. But some things we can be prepared for. And we feel pretty good about our preparation to date.

Over the past few years, we've been practicing. Not always on the boat. Sometimes in a car, a plane, a bus, a motorhome. The skills we've acquired are no less useful because we acquired them on land.

Before moving aboard a sailboat, we spent 8 months in a motorhome getting accustomed to living in a tight space. Ben designed our solar electricity system so that I could continue working from home. We learned how to provision water and propane - both of which are even more difficult to come by on the water. We learned how to live with [what I used to think was] the world's smallest refrigerator. 

In the past two summers, we've driven over 10,000 miles in a car back and forth across the USA. Some of you might wonder what a road trip could possibly have to do with sailing. For us, it's simple. Road-tripping is like sailing with training wheels. It's learning how to keep watch in a controlled environment. Four hour shifts behind the wheel of a car, (or better yet, asleep in the passenger seat completely at the mercy of the helmsman), teaches trust. Together, we've practiced navigation on land with plenty of room for error. We learned how well we work together as a team, even in bad situations (maybe even more so in bad situations!). Ben learned that he can trust my judgment and I learned that I can trust his, for real. These are not things either one of us wants to leave to chance in the middle of the ocean.

Last summer, Ben and I traveled to Costa Rica. Aside from Mexico, this was our first taste of foreign travel together. We are firm believers in "doing as the Romans do." It seems like a good way to avoid trouble. In Costa Rica, we learned that we can be Romans, or, in this case, Ticos. We learned how to navigate a foreign country with ease. These are important skills for sailors, because... let's face it... neither one of us has much desire to sail around America for the rest of our lives.

As far as sailing experience goes, as much as we *don't* sail, we seem to sail as much or more than anyone else around here. We only began learning how to sail three years ago, and since then we've had our share of bay sails, local trips to Mission Bay and the Coronados, anchorages, etc. Ben has accumulated a good number ocean hours sailing with our friend Adam to Newport and Catalina Island. I graduated from the US Sailing Keelboat Certification course. This is not to say we don't still have a lot to learn, but we each feel pretty good about what we've learned in the past three years.

And someday, we'll go. But not because someone told us we should. We'll go when we're ready to go... And we'll most likely slip out in the middle of the night when no one is watching. So don't bother planning a farewell party! ;)

Sunday, July 17, 2011


 The Chilean tall ship Esmeralda is docked in San Diego Harbor this week. She is the second-tallest and second-longest tall ship in the world. Apparently some people are appalled by her tainted past (read NPR's article here) but I prefer to live in the present. She's a beautiful, BIG ship and we got a couple shots of her the other day as the sun was setting over the bay. I only wish they had side-tied her to our new cruise ship terminal. It would have provided a more attractive backdrop for such a snazzy boat.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


One of the projects Ben accomplished this summer while I was slaving away on the computer was refinishing the woodwork in the cockpit. He sanded the door panels and trim around the cockpit. Then he stained everything with Minwax Colonial Maple Wood Finish and applied Yacht Shine Teak Preserver to protect it. Since this is our first attempt at wood finishing in a marine environment, only time will tell how it holds up, but it looks bright and beautiful. He also did some work on the tiller which cracked on our last trip to La Playa. I'll post more on that later.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Dive Bar

A while back, we purchased a dive ladder at Minney's. Ben installed it recently so now he can easily climb out of the water after cleaning the boat. It also came in handy for Kristie when she fell out of her kayak on the 4th. ;)


It's been a while since my last post. I'm officially done with school tomorrow, so hopefully I'll make time to blog more in the next couple of months.

Ben has been working on some boat projects while I've been focusing on school and work. We even took a little Bay Sail one day a week or two ago. I'll post pics in the near future but for now I'll start with the 4th of July.

We enjoyed a pretty laid-back holiday weekend on the mooring field. I finally took Bad Seed for a spin (photo, left). I'm happy to report I haven't fallen into the water... yet!

Matt and Dianne stopped by for some sangria and sunshine before heading to OB for the fireworks show.

Mark came over and gave Bad Seed a try while Kristie yakked around. 

Kristie took a spill (or two) but that didn't stop her travels around the bay.

Always the eccentric, Charlie was spotted cruising around the 
bay in his self-designed handicapped lawnchair dinghy.

Andrea and I went on a sunset row while Ben went for a sunset sail. On our journey, we met a new friend, Pete, who was stationed at the end of the mooring field... The three of us rowed back out to Pete's boat later for an unobstructed view of the six synchronized fireworks shows around the Bay.

 On Tuesday, we were graced by a rainbow over the city. No rain, though. Only beautiful, sunny, 70+ degree weather all weekend long. This summer is definitely redemption for last year.

Even Lola got to go for a ride in Bad Seed!